This Volcano Erupted For 5 Years Straight, And The Photos Are Mesmerising

On 24 May 1969, a deep rumbling started within Kīlauea, the largest of the volcanoes comprising the island of Hawai’i.

Those were the first moments of the historical Mauna Ulu eruption – a spectacular outpour of lava that lasted for a total of 1,774 days, at the time becoming the longest Kīlauea eruption in at least two millennia.

Staff at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory had noted that the magma reservoir underneath the tip of the volcano had started to swell, but they still didn’t expect the magnificent activity that lasted well into the summer of 1974.

So huge was this eruption that the cooling lava created a whole new landscape on the side of Kīlauea, earning the name of “growing mountain”, or Mauna Ulu.

In 1969 alone, twelve huge lava fountains erupted at the site, and much of this activity has been captured for posterity in glorious photographs.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently reminded the world of the Mauna Ulu eruption with a throwback photo to one of the rarest types of a lava fountain you can possibly get.

Usually, lava just explodes all over the place without any rhyme or reason, making this beautiful, perfectly rounded dome fountain all the more special. (By the way, the foreground is not the ocean, as it might seem at first glance – it’s a landscape of cooled lava.)

Here’s another version of the photo, taken on 11 October 1969. The original tweet notes its height at roughly 20 metres (65 feet), but according to USGS records, at some point the fountain may have towered as high as 75 metres (246 feet):

Lava fountains, in all their blazing glory of raw exploding geology, can reach the dizzying heights of 500 metres, according to USGS.

They typically happen when lava shoots out of an isolated vent or a fissure in the volcano, or when water in a confined space gets inside a lava tube.

And, if you like this photo, Mauna Ulu certainly produced more incredible scenery.

On June 25 of the same year, a massive 220-metre (722-foot) fountain of lava shot up from the volcano:

On August 15, there was this little splatter of boiling hot rock, just 8 metres (26 feet) high but shaped rather like a searing mushroom cloud. At that point in the eruption, activity like this was almost constantly happening at Mauna Ulu:

One of the most spectacular events during the eruption were these 100-metre high ‘lava falls’ overflowing the ‘Alae Crater on Kīlauea, on August 5.

“For the two seasoned observers who witnessed this awe-inspiring event, nothing else matched it during the entire Mauna Ulu eruption,” USGS writes on their website.

Even after that stunning event, Kīlauea was far from done inspiring awe in its observers. Another massive lava fountain shot up in the air on October 20, and in this photo you can even see a geologist standing on a viewing platform about 800 metres (2,625 feet) away.

Despite the considerable distance, observers still had to hide behind a stone wall as the heat was so intense – sometimes dry grass right next to the platform would even catch fire.

Of course, Kīlauea is far from done. Only nine years later, the Pu’u ‘Ō’ō eruption began – and it is still active today, producing regular spectacles of lava explosions.

What’s particularly crazy is that’s not even the longest continually active volcano on our planet. According to Guinness World Records, this honour belongs to Mt Stromboli in Italy.

Kilauea Volcano: Rare Landspout Phenomenon Filmed Over Hawaiian Lava Flows

A rare phenomenon was caught on camera above Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano as it spewed out lava on Thursday.

Videographer Mick Kalber was flying aboard a helicopter belonging to tour operator Paradise Helicopters at sunrise when he spotted dramatic columns of steam rising hundreds of feet above an area of the volcano known as the East Rift Zone.

These tube-shaped formations are known as landspouts—mini tornadoes which, unlike normal tornadoes, are not associated with the rotating updraft (mesocyclone) of a thunderstorm, according to The Weather Network.

They are usually relatively weak and short-lived, lasting just a few minutes, and tend to spin slower than normal tornadoes, although they still pose a risk to people and property. They usually form from the ground up toward a cloud, (in contrast to normal tornadoes which form downwards from the cloud).

“We’ve seen that at the ocean, when a lot of lava goes in fast into the water, it creates that same phenomenon,” Kalber was quoted as saying by Global News. “It will swirl, and it will make this clockwise motion and it will sometimes spin off vortices, but we’ve never seen them over land before.”

Kalber, who has spent years documenting Kīlauea, thinks that intense wind, high humidity and heavy rainfall over the volcano’s lava flows created the perfect conditions for the rare landspouts to form. Rainwater from the heavy downpour likely seeped into cracks in the lava field, creating steam that then began swirling due to the climactic conditions.

And landspouts weren’t the only impressive sight Kalber spotted that morning. The helicopter crew also witnessed a rare pink rainbow, which they had never seen before.

A “pink rainbow, amazing land spouts and a veritable plethora of lava flows made for a spectacular lava overflight this morning,” Kalber wrote in a Vimeo post.

Kīlauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes with at least 34 eruptions to its name since 1952. There has been continuous volcanic activity in the East Rift Zone since 1983.

Scientists Create World’s First 3-D Thermal Image Of Volcano

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen have created the world’s first 3-D thermal image of an active volcano.

The spectacular image of Stromboli in Italy was made using high-precision cameras mounted to an aerial drone.

It was created by a team of geoscientists from the Universities of Aberdeen and Oslo who are using drone technology to develop a technique that can detect subtle changes in the behaviour of the volcano, providing more accurate information on the likelihood of an eruption.

The research team’s ultimate aim is to develop a fully automated drone monitoring system that is more accurate, safer and cheaper than current methods, which are unaffordable in developing countries where many of the world’s active volcanoes are located.

Professor John Howell, from the University of Aberdeen, said: “Our technique involves using drones to take hundreds of aerial photographs and putting these together to create a 3-D model that maps the surface.

“From there we can overlay the model with images from a thermal camera, allowing us to see the thermal structure of the volcano in 3-D.

“This thermal structure gives us significant insight into changes in the volcano. If we see certain areas are unexpectedly hot then it might be an early warning sign, especially if the ground has swelled.

“These are very small movements so not easily detectable, but by using the latest high-precision cameras we can notice subtle changes to the volcano that might signal an imminent eruption.

“The ability to deploy a drone really close to a volcano means that as well as getting high precision thermal mapping and imagery, we can also deploy portable seismometers and gas sensors in areas that are too dangerous for people to go.”

Professor Howell said that their initial research has allowed them to identify the key challenges involved in developing a fully automated system, but the early results are promising.

“Drone technology is moving so fast that we could have a system fully up and running in a few years,” he said. “Being able to send a low cost portable drone unit to any volcano around the world could really revolutionise how we monitor volcanos and be a game-changer for the people who live and work in their shadow.

“Ultimately this technology could help us build a much better idea of how volcanoes behave and in the future could save lives.”

Seismic Activity In Öræfajökull Still Going Strong

Seismic activity in Öræfajökull volcano continues. This month, fourteen earthquakes measuring over 1.2 have been detected.

An uncertainty level was declared in October and has yet not been lifted. Seismic activity has increased steadily since autumn 2016 and in the past few months it’s been stronger than since measurements began four decades ago.

Geophysicist Páll Einarsson says in today’s issue of Morgunblaðið that these earthquakes “are telling us that there’s plenty of reason to monitor the course of events carefully.”

Swarm Of Earthquakes Hits North Iceland

Almost thirty earthquakes occurred in North Iceland and the ocean north of Iceland last night. The largest earthquake of the swarm occcured at 2.30 AM at a magnitude of 3.0. Its origins were around 20 km North East of Siglufjörður.

The swarm began at around 00.30 last night and most of them were at a magnitude of between 1.0 and 2.0. An earthquake of 2.8 occurred North East of Grímsey.

The Iceland Met Office sees no cause for concern but is carefully monitoring events.

Mount Etna: Europe’s Biggest Volcano ‘Sliding Towards The Sea’

The most active volcano in Europe is slowly sliding into the sea, according to new research.

Mount Etna – located on the Italian island of Sicily – is edging towards the Mediterranean at a rate of around 14mm per year.

While its movement may seem too slow to cause any concern, scientists studying the geology of the volcano have said the situation will require careful monitoring.

“I would say there is currently no cause for alarm, but it is something we need to keep an eye on, especially to see if there is an acceleration in this motion,” lead author Dr John Murray told the BBC .

This is the first time downward “basement sliding” of an entire active volcano has been directly observed.

However, studies of extinct volcanoes suggest this phenomenon can lead to “devastating” collapse of their downslope sides, resulting in landslides.

Dr Murray, who has studied Mount Etna for nearly 40 years, has worked with his team to produce lab simulations of how such activity takes place.

They concluded that despite its instability, any threat posed by the volcano’s downward trajectory will likely not arise for thousands of years.

A more pressing concern could be the disruptive effect the sliding activity will have on the monitoring of future volcanic eruptions.

Mount Etna was first recorded erupting in 1500 BC, and since then it has erupted around 200 times, with a burst of activity in recent decades.

The last such event came in 2017, when several tourists and a BBC crew were injured after being “pelted with boiling rocks and steam”.

Researchers will need to account for their new measurements when conducting eruption forecasting for Mount Etna, as the deformation caused by a lava bulge in the mountain could be impacted by its downward movement.

The study, carried out by Dr Murray and his collaborators over the course of 11 years, was published in the journal Bulletin of Volcanology.

They arrived at their conclusions using data collected with a network of precise GPS stations around the volcano that monitor tiny changes in its behaviour.

Mount Etna is moving down a very gentle slope due to its position on a base of relatively weak, loose sediments.

While the data showed the mountain was moving in an east-south-east direction, towards the coastal town of Giarre, Dr Murray confirmed there was no need for local people to be concerned.

“The thing to watch I guess is if in 10 years’ time the rate of movement has doubled – that would be a warning,” he said.

“If it’s halved, I’d say there really is nothing to worry about.”

Newly Discovered Hot Magma Plume Beneath Yellowstone Volcano Stretches To Mexico

New evidence on Yellowstone’s volcanic activity might shed light on the long-debated theory on the presence of magma plume beneath the national park.

The Yellowstone caldera is a complex system of rock formations that sprung after a series of volcanic eruptions some 630,000 million years ago. This is the widely accepted theory, although there are some scientists who argue that the national park sits right on top of a “hot spot.”

Results of the investigation conducted by Peter Nelson and Stephen Grand from the University of Texas’ Jackson School of Geosciences supports the latter theory suggesting a massive magma plume beneath the park’s surface. This plume, which is the technical word for a magma foundation, appears to extend as far as Mexico.

In a geographic sense, a plume is an abnormality that exists when the earth’s core rises through the mantle forming what it appears to be a foundation of hot magma.

The study, which was published in Nature Geoscience, reported that the probability of a magma plume underneath Yellowstone could explain the heat that influences ground activities such as the Boiling River. This latest claim debunks earlier explanations that the heat source is a by-product of lithospheric movements.

Nelson and Grand’s team gathered seismic data using EarthScope’s USArray, which showed a “long, thin, sloping zone” that measured about 72 kilometers long and 55 kilometers wide. Because seismic patterns travel slower in this region of the mantle, it is understandable that it can be up to 800 degrees Celsius higher than its surrounding areas.

The emerging image revealed a 350-kilometer cylinder formation that runs all the way to the California-Mexico border.

Yellowstone is not the only one with suspected magma plume. In fact, the volcanic island of Hawaii is home to a chain of active plumes that date back millions of years ago.

In the case of Hawaii, plumes are formed when the ocean plate moves beneath land masses in a process called subduction. Rocks could get in the way during the process, then forming the plumes which are fixated on earth.

“There are many suspected plumes, or hot spots, around the Earth. Yellowstone is one of them, but it’s a bit more complex,” said Michael Poland, a scientist at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

According to Polan, although the science of plumes seems complex, it has always been there posing itself as a natural geographic occurrence.

“[Plumes have] no impact on our understanding of how Yellowstone works in terms of eruptive cycles, just their driving forces. It doesn’t change our perception of volcanic activity at all,” Poland explained.